Does Low Mileage Mean Great Condition? Not Necessarily.

After appraising automobiles of all types for over 40 years, one thing has become clear; true low mileage is not an indication of good condition and roadworthiness.

Low Mileage vehicle doesn't mean good conditionAAG recently completed a prepurchase inspection assignment on an 8-year-old sports car with only 2200 miles on the odometer. At first one would think that would be a great candidate for purchase without question. Some would say it is almost as good as a brand new car. But consider this; during those 8 years the car was only driven 275 miles a year. This indicates a very low wear pattern. Automobiles develop a distinctive wear pattern. When the wear pattern is changed by a new owner, the automobile will react to the new and different wear pattern in some negative ways.

This means that you will likely see leaks from the engine or transmission. If this is a manual transmission, a clutch replacement may be needed. Any place that has a gasket may develop a leak once the vehicle is driven. While the wear and tear on the mechanical components is less because of the low mileage, the new owner should plan on replacing a number of gaskets to eliminate the loss of fluids.

When we appraise vehicles, another item of concern we see is the age of the tires. The tread may still look good, but it could have flat spots from sitting in storage. More worrisome is that it may have dry rot on the inside. Tires have date codes that will help you determine if replacement is warranted.

Letting an automobile sit and not driving it on a regular basis means areas that are normally lubricated when in operation are not receiving the benefits of those fluids. An auto is a self-lubricating piece of machinery. As with many other things, use it or lose it. Other items to consider in a low mileage vehicle include brake fluid lines and gas tanks that have become contaminated because of sitting with old gas in them. When considering the purchase of a low mileage vehicle or one that has been sitting for many months or years, check the fuel gauge. Cars should be stored with a full tank to eliminate condensation issues and ideally should be run for 30 minutes at a time every month.

Low mileage does not always equal an almost new roadworthy car. Do not buy a low mileage car and expect great mechanical condition without the expectation of some immediate mechanical maintenance and repairs. Non-use is not your friend unless special care has been taken to regularly exercise and thereby lubricate the vehicle.

Larry Batton
Happy Motoring!

6 Things to Consider Before you Buy a Classic Car

  1. Documentation. Who? What? When? Where? Ask for copies of restoration receipts, maintenance records.  Who did the work? What was done? When was it done? Where was it done? Where has the car been driven? How has it been stored?  Other documents could include a copy of the build sheet from the manufacturer, window sticker or Maroney label.
  2. Ownership.  How long has the current owner had the car? Do the owners know its history or are they flipping it, trying to make a quick sale?
  3. Ask to see the title. What is the vehicle’s ID number?   Google it.  Old advertisements may still be available online. Look at both sides of the title. Is the title in the seller’s name, is it on consignment or are they floating the title? Look for words like salvaged, rebuilt, or a reissued VIN.
  4. Why is the car for sale?  How much will they take for it and why that much?
  5. Is the seller willing to have the car inspected by an independent appraiser?  If so, tell them you’d like to wait to make an offer on the car until after the inspection if it’s still what you’re looking for.  If they say OK, then move forward with the inspection.
  6. Never pay cash unless you are in a bank or safe location during the transfer of the money.

What I Love about Hershey

Having just gotten back to the real world after my week at Hershey, I can’t help but reflect on what a great time we had again this year. Except for the brief thunderstorm and subsequent run-off that washed our cooler out of the tent and the Saturday afternoon rain, the weather was nearly perfect. If you’ve never been and you like old cars, you have to put it on your bucket list.  If you have been, maybe you could add your comments about what you love about Hershey.  There are three things that stand out for me this year.

  1. The People – Interacting with many of the AAG agents face-to-face rather than on the phone.  I spend a lot of time on the phone.  Talking with clients, talking with agents, talking to whoever wants to talk with me.  It’s fun to be able to hang out with the agents and get to know each other outside of the appraisal business.  Not that we don’t talk shop, but we can relax and talk cars, family and other fun stuff too.   Hershey is also a great place to see old friends, clients and meet lots of new people.  Life’s all about relationships.The Wednesday Gang
  2. The Cars – Of course being able to visit the car coral and see what bargains are out there and what cars keep coming back year after year, is a great way to spend the day.  But the best part is Saturday morning, watching all the cars drive onto the show field for judging.  Where else are you going to see 900 antique cars being driven into place with period costumes, a little gray smoke and lots of smiling faces?  This is the culmination of a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Whether restored and detailed by their owners or a recent purchase and first time entrant, it makes me feel good to see so many living the dream and participating in the hobby.     White brass era
  3. The AACA – How many volunteers does it take to host 300,000 people?  And how many shows are hosted by the AACA on every level throughout the country each year? How many hours are given to make your local, regional and national club a place that allows people to live out their passion for the history of the automobile and the old car hobby? The AACA helps owners to restore, maintain and drive those old cars while hanging out with friends and building community around that passion.  By supporting the AACA we are really supporting one another. Thank you to the AACA for another great event.

Corvette Value Trends Seminars – Corvettes at Carlisle – Friday & Saturday at 10AM

Red Corvette - Corvette Value

What’s hot, and what’s not in today’s Corvette market. Don’t miss this very informative seminar this weekend at Corvettes at Carlisle on Friday and Saturday mornings at 10AM. Be in the know about today’s Corvette values and what the future may hold. What does customization do to the value? What are recent sales trends? Can you spot which cars sold for more at recent auctions? You may be surprised. Come sit a spell and let our founder and market value expert, Larry Batton, entertain and educate you on trends for one of America’s favorite sports cars. If you miss the seminar, invite your local AAG agent to share our presentation at one of your upcoming club events. Call us today for more information. 1-800-848-2886.

Interesting Information about Carroll Shelby

Carroll Shelby

  • He was a well-known race car driver and some considered him the best driver in the world.
  • He was the founder of Shelby American company.
  • He was a romantic. He dropped love letters in a boot from an airplane as he flew over his fiancé’s farm while he was a flight instructor in San Antonio during WWII.
  • He was Tough. In 1955 he drove the “12 Hours of Sebring” race with a broken hand that was in a fiberglass cast and taped to the steering wheel.
  • He invented the Cobra in his sleep. Like many great minds, he kept pen and paper by his bed for ideas in the middle of the night.
  • Shelby drove for Enzo Ferrari until several drivers including Luigi Musso, a friend of his was killed.
  • Shelby’s beef with Enzo lead to the birth of the legendary Cobra Daytona, which strangely used WWII-era German tech to beat Ferraris on European tracks.
  • He was the first American manufacturer to win the FIA World Sportscar Championship.
  • Ford drafted Shelby to reshape the Mustang so it could race in the “Sports Car Club of America” against the Corvette.
  • In February 2014 a Cobra Daytona became the first car considered to be a piece of national heritage by the Library of Congress.

Harold LeMay Collection Featured on Fox Business Series

1929PierceArrowModel125Touring

Larry was recently interviewed for an episode of a Fox Business News Series entitled “Strange Inheritance” while at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The show can be seen Tuesday night, January 27th at 9PM. This episode, which features the LeMay Auto Collection of over 3000 Cars, will include some details about AAG’s appraisal of the automobiles for the estate. The project took 6 months to complete and utilized the skills and manpower of AAG’s agents from across the country.  Harold LeMay was a true collector and it was an honor to help his family inventory and identify his vast collection of automobiles.  We hope that you will have a chance to check out the show. The photo is of a 1929 Pierce Arrow Model 125 Touring car from the collection.  http://www.strangeinheritance.com/

Finally – Fall Car Show Season

pedal car carlisle

Here we are again; it is time for two of the biggest and best fall events on the east coast. Fall Carlisle – “a collector car swap meet, car corral, and auction” – is held October 1-5, at 150 acre Carlisle, Pennsylvania fairgrounds and is celebrating its 40th year. AAG has been the official appraiser for the last 25 of those years.  With over 8,000 vendor spaces and 2,000 cars in the car corral, you have plenty of opportunity to haggle with the seller and get your best price. The AACA’s Regional Fall Meet at Hershey Park in Pennsylvania is October 8-11 and has been around since 1955 and is a great place to locate all things car related. There are 9,000 flea market spaces, with 3,300 vendors and 1,100 car coral spaces with 200 to be sold the week of the Fall Meet.

Carlisle has an auction on Friday & Saturday of the show and plans to see over 300 cars cross the auction block. This event has produced good cars at great prices and could be another great opportunity to find the car you want.  Average sale is about $15,000 per auto offered. There is always something in everyone’s price range at this auction. Here is your chance to buy and sell. All Fall Auction consignments are free unless sold.

Hershey’s AACA Meet is considered one of the largest antique auto shows and flea markets in the United States. I have been attending the event for 25 years and rarely get to see the entire show during the 4-day event.  All spaces are hosted by AACA members and true to tradition, only vehicles and parts for autos 25 years or older may be sold. Show field conditions have improved greatly over the years and there is no longer any worry about a mud-fest when the weather doesn’t cooperate.  In fact, last year the sun came out just in time for the Saturday morning car judging event.

Stop by and see us at both shows this fall. We will be on the Midway once again at Fall Carlisle and just inside the Green Field in spaces GAI 11-13 as you enter from the car corral at Hershey. As always, we provide on-site pre-purchase inspections and appraisals upon request. We look forward to seeing you and the great deals you will find at the show.

Happy Motoring,

Larry Batton

1970 Chevelle Super Sports

70 Chevelle SS 396

The restyled 1970 Chevelle offered the Super Sport as an option package for hardtops and convertibles. There were 49,862 SS 396 Chevelles produced in 1970 and they sold for the amazing price of $3,439 for the coupe and $3,639 for the convertible. The SS 396 option package came with a 350-bhp 402-cid V-8, power front disc brakes, the F41 heavy duty suspension package, Polyglas F70x14s. The SS 396 models also had a hood with a large bulge in the rear center. Hood stripes were an extra cost option with this hood. There was also a “Cowl Induction” option available. It had “Cowl Induction” emblems on either side of the bulge and a door on the top of the bulge that would open automatically when the engine needed extra air. The “Cowl Induction” option was not standard on any SS but was always an extra cost item. The “Cowl Induction” option came with hood stripes. You could, however, delete the “Cowl Induction” stripes at no cost. You could get the stripes without the “Cowl Induction” option (at additional cost). All of the ’70-’72 SS cars came with hood pins, except for some of the early ’70 models (those built around April of 1970 or earlier) that were not ordered with Cowl Induction. The ’70 SS came with the same wheels used on the ’69s. Contrary to popular opinion, the tachometer/gauge package was never a standard part of the SS package but was an extra cost option.

In 1970, there were two different SS packages available for the Chevelle. One was the “Z25” SS 396 and the other was the “Z15” SS 454. There were only two engine choices for the SS 396: the 350(L34) and 375 (L78) HP “Cowl Induction” version. It was a very confusing year for 396 buyers. The 396 engines now actually displaced 402 cubic inches, but were still called a “396” when installed in an SS. Sometime in late 1969, the 396 engine received a 0.030-inch larger bore and actually displaced 402 cubic inches. When the 350hp (L34) and 375hp (L78) engines were used with the RPO Z15 option, all emblems, stickers, etc. still said “396.”A very limited number of SS Chevelles with the 375 HP 396’s and the “L89” aluminum heads were produced in 1970.

The 396 big blocks (from ’68-’70) came with either the TH-400 automatic, or a Muncie 3 or 4 speed. It was also possible to get a ’68 SS 396 with a 2-speed “PowerGlide” automatic. “Big-blocks” came standard with a 12-bolt rear axle. Positraction was never standard equipment on the SS, but was always an option. The only exception was that if you ordered the 4.10 (or higher) rear axle ratio option, Positraction was mandatory.

The only way to truly document a 1970 Chevelle as having the SS 396 or SS 454 option is with some sort of paperwork showing the option itself or the engine suffix code and the car’s VIN. Examples would be the build sheet or warranty card protect-o-plate showing a 396 or 454 engine suffix.

The 1970 SS Chevelle 396 was a beast on the highway.  It was a shining example of an era of skyrocketing horsepower ratings when it seemed like the sky was the limit.             ~Submitted by AAG Certified Agent Scott Santomo

What’s Trending with Chevelle Values?

SS 396/350 Coupes—up 2%

SS 396/375 Coupes—up 3%

SS 396/350 Convertibles—up 3%

SS 396/375 Convertibles—up 4%

SS 454 Coupes—up 3%

SS 454 Convertibles— up 3%

 

 

America’s Pony Car Turns 50

Cropped 65 Mustang

America’s favorite pony car and automotive icon turned 50 this year.  The Ford Mustang has been an important part of the motoring world since 1964.

From the beginning, it set the standard for affordable, fun cars.  It offered extensive options and packages, including various appearances and performance levels.  You could order a weekend cruising convertible or an evening stoplight dragster directly from the factory.  Ford has continued this tradition through today with the Boss 302, GT500, and Cobra models, as well as base models with hardtops, glass tops, and convertible tops.

Many automotive enthusiasts have owned or have wanted to own a Mustang.  Those who have owned one all have a story to tell about how they got it or about an experience they have had with their pony car.  Such a favorite car is always hard to part with.

I purchased my first Mustang in 1998 when I was working at an auto shop in Roseville, California.  There was a small car dealership on the corner of the street where my shop was located.  I drove past that lot twice every day.  There was the usual menagerie of affordable cars for sale on the lot that came and went.

Then one Monday, there appeared a 1993 Mustang LX notchback with the 5.0 V-8 engine and five-speed transmission.  It was formerly a California Highway Patrol car that had been repainted and freshened up with aftermarket wheels.  It took about two weeks of driving past that car before I couldn’t help but stop and peer in the window.  To me, it was beautiful.

The salesperson told me how much it cost and explained that I could not drive the car unless I was planning to buy it.  That added an element of mystique that made the car even more desirable.  I caved in and borrowed money for the down payment, traded in my thrifty and economical Honda Accord hatchback, and drove off the lot with my dream car.  That planted the seed.  Since then, I have owned and loved many other Mustangs from all generations.

Kudos to the Ford Motor Company for continuing to improve our favorite pony car.  It has remained a steadfast collectible car, as well as a practical and reliable daily driver.  The Mustang continues to raise the bar for other auto manufacturers in terms of quality, excitement, and innovation.

So a hearty Happy Birthday on the
50th anniversary of the Ford Mustang!
~Submitted by Brandon McCullough, Livermore, CA

What’s Trending with Mustang Values?

  • 1964’s – up 3%
  • 1966’s – up 2%
  • 1967’s – up 2%
  • 1970’s – up 3%
  • 1972’s – up 3%
  • 2007’s – up 2%

1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL

56 MB 300 SL

Ask a classic car expert to name the five most collectible automobiles ever built and chances are very good that the 1954-1957 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing is on the list. Instantly recognizable by its upward swinging doors, the Gullwing was a stunning accomplishment at the time, with the prototype of this motoring icon being tested less than six years after the devastation of WWII left the Mercedes factories in ruins. Borrowing liberally from existing Mercedes models, the early racing versions of the 300SL achieved great success on the track, including an improbable 1-2 finish upon their first attempt at the fabled 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race, in 1952, with other successes at the Nürburgring and La Carrera Panamericana, the treacherous Mexican road race.

The coupe’s defining characteristic, its hinged-at-the-roof doors, were actually necessitated by the use of an extremely rigid space frame chassis, a first, which had unusually high sides and precluded horizontally opening doors. The unusually wide door sills of the 300SL also bear witness to this construction.  Another unique feature of the car was the mounting of the dry sump engine at an angle 50 degrees from vertical.  This allowed the 300SL to have an extremely low hood profile, essential for the aerodynamic efficiency required to be competitive against its more powerful competition from Jaguar and Ferrari.

The street version of the 300SL bowed in 1954 at the behest of Mercedes’ U.S. importer, the irrepressible Max Hoffman, who claimed he could sell 1,000 if they were built.  In fact, over the Gullwing’s four year run, approximately 1,100 were made to U.S. specification, confirming Hoffman’s confidence. With only 1,402 made, the 300SL coupe is a rare car, but in fact the rarest of the Gullwings are the 29 built in 1955 & 1956 which were ordered with bodies made entirely of aluminum alloy. The alloy option package also included revised camshafts, a special rear end ratio, highly desirable Rudge wheels, and plastic side and rear windows for further weight savings; all this for the not unsubstantial premium of $1,307 above the nearly $7,000 base price of a ‘standard’ 300SL.

In collecting circles, the Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing ticks all the boxes: revolutionary yet timeless design, great performance, and possibly the most important determinants of current collectability — it was rare, expensive and special when new. And so it is today. With  prices  for  good  to  great  Gullwings now ranging  from  $1,000,000  to  over $2,000,000, the market has spoken on this blue-chip collectible.     ~submitted by Michael Leven, AAG Agent, Turlock, California